Since Cocoa Life Indonesia was founded in 2013, I’ve seen the program grow and develop, truly shaping the future of cocoa for generations to come. Supported by deep collaboration with our partners, we focus on where we can make a difference to make cocoa farming more sustainable, empower communities and conserve forests.
But our success is down to more than just hard work and determination. It is also down to Musrenbang: a bottom-up community development approach, unique to Indonesia, introduced by the government to strengthen development initiatives and ensure they meet communities’ needs.
Today, I’m proud to share a paper that outlines how, through public-private partnerships, we have integrated the Musrenbang process into Cocoa Life, and what we’ve learned along the way.
Embedding Musrenbang into Cocoa Life
Musrenbang gives community members the power to shape the future of their community’s development, and empowers community members of all demographics to contribute to their Community Action Plans (CAP) and influence government and village budgets, including investments.
Empowering men, women and youth within cocoa communities to advocate for themselves and their futures is central to Cocoa Life’s holistic program design. At Cocoa Life Indonesia, we saw the value of the Musrenbang approach, and its potential create a whole new level of community engagement for greater impact. So we embedded the Musrenbang approach into our program, to build capacity and empower Indonesian cocoa communities to build the kind of communities they want to live in.
We run training programs on public speaking, proposal writing, child protection and female leadership and on the concepts of CAP and Musrenbang, so that every member of a Cocoa Life community can push for change.
In the 336 cocoa-growing communities that are registered with Cocoa Life, Musrenbang is now used to facilitate effective conversations and partnerships between community members and local village authorities, helping to open up access to funding and community development projects.
On the Ground Impact
Everyone - especially women - is encouraged to participate in Musrenbang, and this inclusivity has created a powerful impact in communities. Better community representation means the initiatives that receive funding are representative of the whole community’s needs, often creating new income-generating opportunities that provide investment into cocoa farms.
"I was so glad that, thanks to this training, I knew what to do and say to encourage other women from my village to participate and make their voices heard. The Musrenbang committee made meeting the representation quota a top priority. Now, women in my village are in a much stronger position to take part in discussions and make some changes."
Tintin Agustina, community member from Tritunggal Mulya, Lampung
We’ve also seen an increased transparency in the allocation of government and village funds and more women identifying and raising their needs and those of their families.
"Amongst the plans that the women have proposed in our discussions over these last few years are the need for capacity building training and capital funding for women-led businesses, and requests for training on skills needed to create additional sources of income, such as home vegetable gardening and sewing."
Imasse, community member from Marioriwawo, South Sulawesi
Our research found that 81% of farmers and 86% of community leaders agree or strongly agree that support to improve integration with the Musrenbang concept has improved community planning and development.
Local Collaboration is Key to Success
Musrenbang is a leading example of how collaboration and participation between government, civil society and private industry is integral to delivering rural development and long-term impact.
By leveraging Musrenbang, we’ve been able to respond to real community needs, creating efficiencies by adopting and incorporating an existing system, instead of devising and establishing a new process from scratch.
Engaging the full community with Musrenbang through a partnership approach has enabled Cocoa Life to have a far greater impact on these communities, accelerating their development and helping drive sustainable livelihoods - underlining our mantra that with the right approach, 1+1 can equal 3.
I hope that by reading this paper, partners, peers and other sustainability and development actors may find valuable insights on how to accelerate their progress and impact and see how public-private collaboration is key to success.